Dry Lime Fruit – What Causes Dry Limes
By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden
While the juice quality of citrus fruit, like limes, usually improves throughout the season the longer they’re on the tree, there are occasions when those left for too long contribute to dryness. Therefore, harvesting limes just before they begin to turn yellow is the best time for picking nice, juicy fruits. Nonetheless, problems with dry limes do happen, and this is one of the most common complaints.
Cause of Dry Lime Fruit
Trying to determine the cause of dry lime fruit can be overwhelming unless you know what to look for. There are several reasons why limes are dry and pulpy. Dry limes may be associated with lack of water, over maturity, young trees, nutrient deficiencies or stress — due largely in part to improper fertilizing or planting — and extreme changes in temperature.
Improper watering – Improper watering is one of the most common causes of dry limes. Limes require plenty of water for healthy fruit development, especially when grown in containers. Lack of sufficient water inhibits juice quality in limes and may be why limes are dry. Give lime trees a deep watering at least twice a week, especially during periods of drought.
Over maturity – Leaving limes on the tree too long can also be a cause of dry lime fruit. Limes are generally picked prior to reaching full maturity, while still green. Do not allow limes to turn yellow.
Tree too young – Young lime trees, especially those during the first two or three years, commonly produce dry limes. As trees mature, the fruit production and juice content improves.
Nutrient deficiencies/stress – Nutrient deficiencies or stress may be a cause of dry lime fruit. Improper fertilization is one factor contributing to this. Fertilizer is typically required once a year, although two applications are sometimes recommended – once in February and following up again in May.
Poor planting and insufficient soil drainage can also result in dry limes. Planting depth and healthy soil are important factors to consider when limes are dry. Citrus trees should be planted at the same depth or within an inch (2.5 cm.) less of the root ball. To ensure healthy soil, amend it with compost, also keeping in mind that most citrus trees prefer pH levels between 6.0-6.5. Make sure the location and soil provide adequate drainage as well.
Limes should also be planted in sunny locations and well protected from cold.
Some limes, however, such as the Kaffir lime, are naturally dry. Therefore, you should so keep this in mind when choosing lime trees.
If your healthy-looking limes are dry, there can be several causes. Once you eliminate each cause of dry lime fruit, you will be better equipped to find and fix the influencing factor. No more worries, no more dry limes.
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What Is Well-Drained Soil (Why Do You Need It?)
Well-drained soil is soil that drains fast enough, but not too fast. In other words, well-drained soil holds enough water for plant growth, but not too much water.Well-drained soil retains enough moisture for plants to survive, but it does not stay wet for too long.
Well-drained soil is important to maintain the correct moisture levels for the plants in your garden. Soil that is either too dry or too wet will cause a problem.
Soil that drains too fast (such as sandy soil) will lead to dry soil. You can learn more about how to treat dry soil in my article here.
On the other hand, poorly-drained soil (such as heavy clay soil) will lead to wet soil. Wet soil has too much water in the empty space between soil particles.
According to the Alabama State University Extension, air and water are about evenly matched in healthy soil. That is, about 50% of the space between soil particles is filled with air, and the other 50% is filled with water.
Wet soil causes an imbalance where there is too much water in the space between soil particles. This leads to a lack of oxygen, which plant roots need to survive.
Without well-drained soil, your garden will stay wet for too long after watering or rain. This leads to root rot, which eventually kills plants by preventing them from absorbing water.
Poorly drained soil also leads to runoff, where you lose topsoil and nutrients when they are washed away by rain or irrigation. According to the University of Missouri Extension, well-drained soil prevents runoff so that you don’t need to fertilize so often.
What Type Of Soil Drains Well?
Sandy soil is light with large particles. Sandy soil drains well and does not hold water for a long time. Unfortunately, this also means that it does not hold nutrients well.
Clay soil is heavy with small particles. Clay soil drains poorly and holds water for a long time. As mentioned earlier, too much water in soil leaves no space for oxygen, which will hurt plants.Clay soil drains slowly and may stay too wet, which can lead to root rot and other problems for plants.
Loam soil contains a more balanced mixture of sand and clay. It falls somewhere in between sandy and clay soil in terms of how well it drains water.
If you know what type of soil you have, you can take a guess as to how well it drains. If you aren’t sure what type of soil you have, there is an easy way to tell how well it drains.
How to Tell if Your Soil Drains Well
There is a simple test you can use to tell if your soil drains well.
First, dig a hole in your soil that is 1 cubic foot (that is, the hole should be 1 foot long by 1 foot wide by 1 foot deep).To test soil drainage, dig a hole about 1 cubic foot, and then pour about 7.5 gallons into the hole. If it drains in less than 10 minutes, your soil is well-draining.
Next, fill the hole with water. It will take about 7.5 gallons (28 liters) of water to fill a hole that is 1 cubic foot.
Then, use a watch to record the time it takes the water to drain out of the hole:
- if the water drains in less than 10 minutes, the soil is well-drained.
- if the water takes over 1 hour to drain, the soil is poorly-drained.
- if the water takes between 10 and 60 minutes to drain, is fairly well-drained.
If you garden is in an area prone to flooding or heavy rain in spring or summer, then you will need to take some steps to make the soil drain better.
This is one of the most common problem for gardeners and usually leads to other garden issues, like plants dying, not fruiting or pest and disease problems.
To understand why this is a major problem for your garden and the plants you’re growing, first I’ll explain how garden soil dries out…
After a long dry period the earth becomes dehydrated.
From dry weather or lack of watering, if soil is dead and lacks important organic ingredients it will actually repel water, rather than it soaking in when it rains or water is applied.
This is known as ‘Hydrophobic Soil’.
Here’s a small garden that’s slightly sheltered from the rain.
After a few months of hot weather and minimal water the soil is in very poor condition and won’t absorb any of the water applied.
The main particles in healthy soil are decomposed organic/natural ingredients and living organisms.
The more natural ingredients in the soil, the better moisture retention and healthier soil.
Follow these simple steps to bring life back to dry dead soil…
Gather a few of these ingredients (you won’t need all of them so use ingredients that you can easily collect)
- Compost – THE best form of organic matter. Compost is decomposing items that were once living. Eg fruit and veggie scraps. Follow simple steps to my easy ‘In-Garden’ Composting Method this link - Do you know how to compost?
- Mushroom Compost – helps to retain moisture while breaking down in the soil.
- Old animal manure – find bags of horse, cow or sheep manure locally and allow to break down in a pile for a few weeks before adding to garden, or purchase bags of aged or rotted manure at your local garden centre or hardware store and apply to soil.
- Garden and lawn clippings – both great to enrich your soil. Make sure there’s no weed seeds included in lawn clippings, as they’ll sprout in your garden. Green and brown lawn clippings are both useful.
- Mulch – Cane, hay or other mulched plant matter helps to improve soil and retain moisture during dry times.
- Coir peat – a sustainable resource from coconut fibre. This retains moisture in garden soil and potting mix.
- Worm castings and liquid – great to have a home worm farm. Add worm poo and worm wee to your soil and to potting mix. Learn more about Worm Farms HERE
- Others include Blood & bone (one of my faves), organic slow release fertiliser pellets and organic liquid plant fertilisers.
Follow this method –
- remove any mulch and weeds from the soil.
- gently dig into the soil with a garden fork. Don’t turn the soil over, just push the fork into the ground to loosen up.
- apply a deep watering to the dry soil before applying ingredients. This will help to retain moisture in the lower levels of soil.
- sprinkle blood & bone or organic fertiliser pellets (as per application rate on bag).
- apply a 5-10 cm layer of chopped garden clippings or a thin layer (about 2-5 cm) fresh green lawn clippings.
- apply 5-10 cm layer of compost, rotted manure or mushroom compost.
- cover with a 5 cm layer of cane mulch or hay.
- wet all ingredients with a soak of water or apply diluted worm liquid or organic liquid fertiliser with a watering can.
Get your hands in the mix (gloves on) to ensure everything is damp. If not, water again.
Allow the ingredients to ‘rest’ for approx. 2-3 weeks. Checking moisture levels weekly and apply water to keep it all damp.
Once the soil is healthy again and worms and other critters are visible then the garden area can be planted.
TIP – if you have existing plants growing, but need to improve the soil, apply the ingredients over the soil around plants (and out to the drip line of trees) ensuring ingredients are 5cm away from stems or main trunk.
Another method for improving soil in garden beds or large plots is with a green manure crop, also known as cover crop. Find information on apply a green manure crop to improve soil HERE.
A similar situation occurs with potting mix in pot plants that have dried out and are unable to absorb moisture.
I suggest soaking the pot plant in a bucket full of water, with added liquid fertiliser, for about 20 – 30 minutes. If you notice a lot of bubbles coming to the surface it means it’s a very dry pot plant!
You can re-pot with a blend of the old mix and fresh potting mix to help plants retain moisture.
I hope this helps to improve dry soil in your garden.
If you have any questions then head to our Soil to Supper Facebook Club and post questions or garden problems you have. I’m there each day to support you!
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How to Fix Blossom End Rot in Tomatoes
Tomatoes are highly known to have blossom end rot. Here are some tomato-centric methods of curing or preventing blossom end rots:
- Try to avoid cultivating or hoeing near the roots of a tomato plant as it might damage the root thus, hampering its ability to gather calcium from the soil.
- In case of the pH level is too high or too low, mulching or using compost is the best option. Avoid the fertilizer during the early fruiting it is at this time that blossom end rot starts to appear.
- Overall, the plants need to have at least one inch of moisture per week to maintain their proper growth.
Some species of tomatoes are more susceptible to the rot than others.
Another great product that you can use is Bonide Rot-Stop Tomato Blossom End Rot Concentrate. Be sure to follow the instructions and it works really well!
When it comes to blossom end rot, prevention is really the cure. Store brought commercial products might just delay the inevitable but they do nothing to cure the plant.
You should take care of the roots of your plants, as this is the best cure for blossom end rot. Make sure to provide it with good fertile soil and take care of its watering need.
If you are an aspiring gardener, I would recommend developing a consistent watering routine. It will go a long way into giving you healthy and fresh crops.
By the way, if you want to grow the best tomatoes and needed help and tips, check out this article: Do These 9 Things To Grow The Best Tomatoes Ever!
Last update on 2021-03-05 / Affiliate links / Product Images from Amazon Product Advertising API